In between other jobs the Thornycroft project is steadily progressing. We have splashed out and had the bucket seat (driver's side) and flip-up seat and back (passenger's side) recovered in as close a colour to the original Rexine as we could find. Nowadays heavy duty Rexine is unobtainable so we had to use a Vinyl. A shame. It is so much better using original materials when available but in this case our hand was forced. The seat covering job cost £310 and was done for us by AC trim of Worcester
On the subject of Rexine, this material is still available in a thin version and is identical to that originally used for covering the roof. We purchased a length of this in a light grey and have covered the cab roof with this. It is stuck down but secured around the edges with carpet tacks on top of which the gutters and beading (sealed with a proprietary sealant) are fitted. The end result looks very good indeed.
Other recently purchased items are a windscreen wiper and arm, and two grab handles and a sliding door handle. An unexpected find was a plug and socket for such items as a lead lamp, the socket part being fitted in the instrument console on the steering column. We did not have a serviceable one of these. It is amazing that all these items, identical to those fitted to the Thornycroft in 1946, are still available in 2012!
On the other hand we have been looking for a replacement Lucas 75B-19 Voltage Regulator without success. There are plenty of more modern ones to be found, but they are substantially smaller and the wiring is different. This fragile item will clearly will not work again, however we were relieved to find that the wiper motor, protected from the elements by the remains of the roof, worked quite happily having stood still for over 50 years! With a good clean up, a greasing and a coat of black paint it was ready to go once more.
Aside from this, all other work on the lorry has centred around rubbing down the paintwork in preparation for a good coat of paint all over. Once this is done a final light rub down will get the vehicle ready for its finishing coat, signwriting and varnishing. We are extremely lucky in that Bob Timmins has very kindly agreed to help us with this. This will guarantee a top job as he is a professional in every sense of the word!
Ex-Bridgnorth Bus Garage
At last we have some reasonable progress on this project. The brick edging to the base had been complete for some time, but the incessant wet weather kept us from laying the concrete floor. At long last in August we had a few decent days forecast so we got straight onto the ready mix people and had 3 cubic metres delivered. As bad luck would have it, the concrete arrived on the hottest day of the year, so rather than having the concrete ruined by rain we had to fight it in the hottest possible conditions, with the stuff going off almost before it hit the ground. Only two of us were there to level the concrete and we both very nearly flaked out before we finished.
Once the base was in we erected all the steelwork and timber beams that form the frame of the building. The height of the bus garage was immediately obvious. When the steelwork was laid out flat it looked far less impressive. At the same time we put in an order to S.L.E Cladding (a very helpful supplier we have used before) for all the necessary curved and straight corrugated iron sheeting for cladding the whole building. We chose a heavy duty thickness of 1.2mm for the walls and 0.9mm for the curved roof sheets for strength. As you would expect, this was an expensive item and at £3000 about half the cost of the rebuild. Our thanks go to Roland who unloaded the sheets from the lorry with the fork lift attachment on the J.C.B. Without his help I was faced with unloading the lot one sheet at a time with the help of the driver and there were 116 sheets!
Work started fitting the cladding sheets in mid September. To safely equip ourselves for this job we made some new staging for the scaffolding tower that had been donated as the original stuff looked a bit weak. No point whatsoever in taking chances.
Fitting the sheets will take us a fair time but straight away we hit a delay due to holidays. It is not a job that one person can carry out on their own, so we can only proceed with two or more present.
Weather and personnel permitting this is our present No.1 priority job. The building will enable us to get the Scammell Trailer under cover for the first time. Also the Scammell Tractor Unit will be moved there freeing up room to work in the storage building.
Pump Trolley Marathon
This event was not organised by the Friends, but our long-serving members will remember that Steve rebuilt the Pump Trolley which was then the first rail exhibit to arrive at the Engine House. The trolley had originally been restored many years ago by a group at Highley, but had been damaged in a derailment and years of open storage had done its worst. Steve replaced quite a bit of timber, including the whole of the deck, and I screwed in a series of pegs in the drive gear, finishing off by brazing and filing to shape to replace the missing gear teeth knocked off in the accident. This repair was to ensure that the gears stayed in mesh if the trolley got moved about in the museum, but is not a very satisfactory remedy so I was a bit worried when I was told the trolley was to be brought out of retirement for a marathon run - Kidderminster to Bridgnorth and back!
I expressed my concerns to the Pump Trolley Team and they had the gear removed and found it had a crack that I had not noticed (Shades of Flying Scotsman!) so it was sent away for further weld repair.
The trolley was carefully checked over by the team and after a number of adjustments and plenty of lubrication it was pronounced fit to run.
The run took place on the evening of 25th August with six men up, four pumping and two on the brakes. The teams changed over at principal stations en route and all went according to plan, the return trip taking only two hours! This achievement is a credit to all concerned especially as around £2000 was raised by the event for the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital in Birmingham in memory of the late Ursula Broadhurst.
The collection remains open for a short while so any reader wishing to donate to this worthy cause can do so by internet on www.justgiving.com/pump or by texting pump50 to 70070. Thank you.
It has been suggested that this could be an annual event - and why not. Besides attracting money for worthwhile causes, the railway gets a bit of good publicity and all those involved have a bit of fun. I still think it may be prudent to get a new drive gear made, though.